March 1, 2012 / 12:41 AM / 6 years ago

NYMEX-Crude steady after 0.5 pct gain on oil hopes

TOKYO, March 1 (Reuters) - U.S. crude futures were steady on Thursday after gaining half a percent the previous day, spurred by data showing a modest expansion in the U.S. economy that raised hopes for oil demand in the world’s top oil consumer.

FUNDAMENTALS

* NYMEX crude for April delivery was up 1 cent at $107.08 a barrel by 0016 GMT, after settling up 52 cents at $107.07 on Wednesday.

The Federal Reserve Beige Book report showed late on Wednesday that the U.S. economy expanded modestly in January through mid-February.

For the month, U.S. crude gained $8.59, or 8.7 percent, rebounding after two straight months of losses, and wrapping up its best performance since October.

* London Brent crude for April delivery was still untraded after it settled up $1.11 at $122.66.

* Oil-consuming nations have no need to release stockpiles as they do not face a supply crunch, EU officials and the International Energy Agency said on Wednesday, after Washington announced it may use stocks to stem soaring gasoline prices.

* The U.S. economy expanded at a 3 percent annual rate, the quickest pace since the second quarter of 2010, the Commerce Department said in its second estimate.

* U.S. crude inventories leaped 4.16 million barrels in the week to Feb. 24, up for a second straight week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said, dwarfing analysts’ forecast in a Reuters poll for a 1.1 million barrel rise.

Gasoline stocks fell 1.6 million barrels and distillate stockpiles fell 2.07 million barrels, the EIA said.

* Western sanctions have already disrupted Iran’s oil flows as U.S. and European companies refuse to insure deliveries, according to a U.S. EIA report on Wednesday obtained by Reuters.

* Output from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries rose last month to its highest since October 2008 due to a further recovery in Libya’s production and higher supplies from Angola and Saudi Arabia, a Reuters survey showed.

* U.S. oil demand in December was stronger than expected but remained significantly lower than a year earlier, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

MARKETS NEWS

* U.S. stocks slipped on Wednesday, snapping a four-day winning streak, after comments from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke disappointed investors hoping for a strong signal of more stimulus.

* The euro and commodity currencies nursed heavy losses in Asia on Thursday as investors cut bullish positions after key events, including the European Central Bank’s cash injection, passed without surprise.

DATA/EVENTS

* The following data is expected on Thursday: (Time in GMT)

- 2350 Japan Business capex/Q4

- 0858 Euro Zone Markit Mfg PMI/Feb

- 1000 Euro Zone Inflation/Feb

- 1000 Euro Zone Unemployment rate/Jan

- 1330 US Consumption/Jan

- 1330 US Initial jobless claims

- 1500 US ISM Manufacturing PMI/Feb

- 1530 US EIA underground natural gas stocks (Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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